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Impostor Syndrome In The Workplace : 5 Steps To Overcoming It


Overcoming impostor syndrome in the workplace. Identifying and understanding imposter syndrome and how it affects your life and career.

Impostor Syndrome In The Workplace

Impostor syndrome in the workplace s a common feeling among many of us. This feeling is especially normal in transitioning teachers who feel devalued after leaving a toxic work environment and disrespected by society. Former teachers in tech roles can feel out of their element or overwhelmed, and corporate life may take some adjusting to!

It’s that nagging feeling that we don’t belong or that we’re not good enough, despite all of our accomplishments. While we may think we are completely alone, this feeling is very common. The International Journal of Behavioral Science says that 70% of people experience impostor syndrome at some point.

The term “impostor syndrome” was first introduced by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline Rose Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes in 1978. It’s the feeling of “phoniness” people have who privately feel like frauds and have a fear of being exposed.

Feeling Impostor Syndrome In Your New Career

As you settle into a new position, new situations are going to arise where you aren’t immediately the expert. You will find that impostor syndrome rears its head in different situations. Some of these may include your first big meeting with clients. Lastly, expect impostor syndrome in the workplace to show up before reviewing your KPIs for the first time.

The most successful people you will meet feel impostor syndrome in the workplace and in their career. Even Maya Angelou, the renowned author, poet, and civil rights activist, wrote about her own feelings of self-doubt. She said, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out’.”

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has also shared about impostor syndrome in the workplace. Sheryl says it’s common among women in leadership positions and encourages others to “lean in” to their accomplishments.

Impostor syndrome is not a sign of weakness or lack of ability. It is a totally normal response to the stress and pressure of your new career.

Different Categories Of Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome in the workplace can take on many different forms. It can manifest in different ways, and there are several types of impostor syndrome. You can have more than one type of impostor syndrome, as people experience a mix of feelings and behaviors. For example, you may feel like a fraud and not smart enough (Expert Impostor). At the same time, you also think you got the job by luck (Natural Genius Impostor). Understanding the different types of impostor syndrome can help you identify which ones you may be experiencing and take steps to overcome them.

How Impostor Syndrome May Show Up In Different Careers

  • The “Perfectionist Impostor” may be feeling like their work is never good enough as a graphic designer and compare themselves to their colleagues. This person’s impostor syndrome in the workplace may prevent them from ever sharing some of their best work due to fear.

  • The “Expert Impostor” may be feeling like they don’t know enough about the product as a sales representative and are constantly worried about being found out as a fraud.

  • The “Superman/Superwoman Impostor” may be feeling like they can’t ask for help as a new manager and take on too much responsibility. This person’s impostor syndrome in the workplace may prevent them from delegating tasks, leading to burnout and job dissatisfaction.

  • The “Natural Genius Impostor” may be feeling like they got the job by accident as a software developer, even after months of taking a grueling bootcamp, and fear they will be found out as a fraud.

  • The “Soloist Impostor” may be feeling like they have to do everything alone as a manager and be afraid to delegate tasks for fear of being found out as not as capable as they seem.

How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome In The Workplace

Step 1: Name and acknowledge your feelings.

Acknowledge when you may be experiencing impostor syndrome in the workplace, and remember it is a very common experience among successful people. Simply noticing when and how impostor syndrome shows up in your life is the first step to battling it.

Step 2: Reframe your thoughts.

Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, focus on your MANY strengths and accomplishments. You were given this position for a reason, and you are a capable and valuable addition to this team. Impostor syndrome in the workplace will trick your brain into thinking you’re not worthy of a seat at the table. Remind yourself the reasons why you were hired for this role. You may want to practice the following mantras to help yourself remember your value when you are feeling scared or low.

  1. “I am capable and competent.”
  2. “My place here was earned by my capabilities.”
  3. “I am worthy of success.”
  4. “Trust my abilities, they’ve taken me this far.”
  5. “Learning and growing makes me even more succesful.”
  6. “I am enough.”
  7. “My accomplishments are worth being proud of.”
  8. “I am surrounded by supportive people who believe in me.”
  9. “Other people also feel this way.”
  10. “Impostor syndrome in the workplace will not hold me back.”

Step 3: Seek support.

Share your feelings with a trusted colleague, mentor, and especially a therapist if you are able to. Ask your loved ones to write down all of your best qualities. They’ll be able to provide you with a different perspective, which can help you remember how great you truly are.

Step 4: Remember to practice self-compassion.

It’s important to be kind to yourself when you’re experiencing impostor syndrome. Remember that you are your own worst critic and you’re likely to be much harder on yourself than you would be on others.

One way to counteract this is to imagine that you’re talking to your best friend. Think about a time when they were feeling down or experiencing self-doubt, and remember how you spoke to them in that moment.

Chances are, you were kind, understanding, and supportive. Try to speak to yourself the same way you would speak to your best friend.

Instead of criticizing yourself or dwelling on negative thoughts, remind yourself of your accomplishments and strengths. Encourage yourself to keep going and remind yourself that you are capable of achieving your goals. Remember that you are worthy of kindness and compassion, just as much as anyone else.

Step 5: Practice Shipping To Overcome Impostor Syndrome In The Workplace

A great way to overcome impostor syndrome is by practicing “shipping”! Shipping means putting your work out into the world, before you feel ready. This can be launching sharing a written report for feedback or presenting your work to a team. It’s a great way to face your fears and self-doubt that often fuel impostor syndrome.

Plus, when you ship, you open yourself up to feedback. Often this can help you see the value and impact of your work. If the feedback is critical, it’s important to keep a growth mindset. Learning from your mistakes, putting the work in, and getting your hands dirty is the fastest way to grow. By shipping frequently and consistently, you can build confidence in your abilities and break the cycle of impostor syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome in the Workplace Conclusion

In conclusion, impostor syndrome in the workplace is a common experience among former teachers. But truly, this feeling arises regardless of your level of success or expertise. It is important to recognize the symptoms of impostor syndrome and take steps to address them, such as seeking support from others, challenging negative thoughts, and setting realistic goals. Remember, impostor syndrome is not a reflection of your abilities or worth, but rather a manifestation of internalized self-doubt.

By actively working to overcome impostor syndrome, you can build confidence and achieve your full potential.

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